July 19, 2019
Saugata Roy speaks on The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Sir, I rise to oppose the Bill, which is why I have given six amendments to the Bill.
Article 51A of the Constitution says, among other things, that ‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’. What the Member has said implies that we have not evolved from monkeys. He is denying Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It is strange that the ruling party has put up a former police commissioner to speak on human rights. It is the police in the country who violate human rights everywhere, who beat people to death in police lockups; it is the police who beat protesters up at the slightest provocation. So for the police to speak on human rights is strange.
I will also say that this logic is very often given by the ruling party – it will talk about terrorism, and giving the excuse of which, it says that human rights should be taken away. The Member is saying that Afzal Guru had so much human rights that the Supreme Court heard his case in the middle of the night. According to the jurisprudence we follow, no person is considered guilty unless proven. So benefit of doubt in modern jurisprudence is given to every human being. One should read Articles 14 to 22.
Article 21 says: ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.’ Article 22 says: ‘Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours.’ All this are blatantly violated in our country. It is time that we improve the human rights consciousness of our police, our central forces and our armed forces.
What about the human rights consciousness of our police, our Central forces, our armed forces? Armed forces are protected by the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA). The AFSPA is in operation in Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and several other places, and in all these places the local people have protested.
I oppose the Bill because it reduces the term of the chairman of the Human Rights Commission from five to three years and is subject to reappointment. That means that the Government can say, you give judgements in our favour then we shall renew your term after three years – that is the bait. The carrot and the big stick is the formula of the present Government. So I am opposed to reducing the term of the chairman of the Human Rights Commission.
I am also opposed to the fact that instead of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, you are allowing any judge of the Supreme Court. This will reduce the gravitas of the post of chairman, and that is the intention behind the rule. There are so many retired Chief Justices sitting and twiddling their thumbs. Why don’t you appoint one of them? Why bring in a judge of the Supreme Court? There are so many of them, and so there will be a scramble for becoming chairman. This is not right at all.
In the case of High Courts also, only the Chief Justice should have remained chairman; now you have allowed a judge to become chairman. I have proposed in my amendments that you at least make the senior-most judge eligible for becoming chairman, not any judge. There are 20 to 30 judges.
The other thing to say is that you are including the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities. But they all Government appointees. They will be there with the Government of the day. They do not even attend the meetings of the Human Rights Commission.
Sir, you have to remember that it is a religious duty for all of us to abide by the Constitution, and to fight for human rights. Human rights should be protected at all cost. We have to remember that even a civilised country like the UK they had to face the worst form of terrorism during the IRA movement. Even then the rights of people were not curtailed, even they didn’t enact any preventive detention law. You have to deal with all the problems using the provisions of the existing law and not bring any new law.
I want the police to be sensitised, I want the security forces to be sensitised, and responsibility should be given to the Human Rights Commission to conduct classes for the police. We all know the story of Israt Jahan, how a young girl was killed on the streets of Ahmedabad on the orders of a person whose name I do not want to mention, lekin bola giya hain, usko thok do, Modiji ko marne aaya hain, usko thok do. This ‘thok do’ culture is going on in our police office. This why I oppose, and I say fight for and hold up human rights in this country.